Saturday, May 29, 2010

A severe case of perfection

Wow. What a day for baseball.

On the home front, I can be happy that the Jays have smashed their way to a new club record for home runs in a month. Four more dingers today gives the Jays 50 in May, eclipsing the old mark of 48 still with two games left before June.

Then June will hit and comes series against the Rays, Yankees, Cardinals, and Phillies (that home series being played 800km away in Philadelphia). If we're one game out of the wild card a month from now like we so teasingly stand today, I'll eat my hat.

With that out of my system, let's get to the good stuff.

Roy Halladay has written himself into baseball's history books by throwing the 20th perfect game in major league history tonight. Not only does this make my 2nd round, 21st overall selection of Halladay in this year's Score Baseball draft look like an absolute steal, it's an honour that he sincerely deserves. His dedication and professional attitude towards the game - especially in his frustrating tenure in Toronto - is well documented.

Halladay deserves a World Series title, and that's why he was shipped to Philly from the concrete confines of Rogers Centre. As good as his complete game shutout filled career has been, he also deserves a moment in the game's history that stands out above all else. Today's performance in South Florida is now his ultimate moment in the game, and will be the centre-point of a Hall of Fame career.

Until he pitches in the playoffs, anyway. It could be quite the 2010 for Doc Halladay.

Crazier yet, Dallas Braden (a member of my other fantasy team, I might add), just came off a perfect game he threw this month! There have been countless thousands of starts in major league history, and we've seen 10% of all perfect games this very month of May 2010. Two perfect games haven't been thrown in the same year since way back in 1880, when two perfect games were tossed in 5 days.

Unfortunately, the Phillies have an off day 5 days from now on June 3rd, therefore I'm starting a petition for Doc to go on short rest against Atlanta on the 2nd.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thanks for listening, NFL

Just one day after I criticized the NFL for not spreading love in terms of Super Bowl site selection, commish Roger Goodell announced that the 2014 Super Bowl has been awarded to New York/New Jersey at the new home of the Giants and Jets.

Thanks for listening. Or more realistically, thanks for making me seem like I know what I'm talking about!

This will be a first Super Bowl in a cold-weather site that's not domed, and is a welcome breath of fresh air. Cold, biting fresh air. We could witness a first Super Bowl played in snow!

My bias is definitely playing into my enthusiasm for this announcement as a Patriots fan who knows what it's like to endure a winter game. It's more than just watching a football game when you're in the stands in freezing temperatures, it's a battle to stay warm as well. Teams who play in cold-weather games will have a distinct home-field advantage for the first time, and that could be a big factor!

In 2008, I remember the Patriots absolutely destroying the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 at home in snowy conditions. Those same Cardinals made a run to the Super Bowl after that huge loss, nearly beating the Steelers in a classic. That Super Bowl was held in Tampa, but imagine they were playing at a cold-weather site. It likely wouldn't have been close, as the Steelers are cold-weather veterans.

That bodes well for us northern fans of the NFL. More food for thought: What if two warm climate teams make the Super Bowl? That would be fun, at the very least, to see something we don't see very often. Unlike all those Super Bowls held in Florida.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Five-Tool Farq: Monday, May 24th

Introducing the first installment of the Five-Tool Farq: My take on what's making headlines across the Big 4 sports in North America and that other big sport they play everywhere else.


Canada lost 5-0 to Argentina on Monday in the first ever friendly between the two nations. It was pretty hilarious seeing Diego Maradona shouting and going nuts from the bench with guys like Mike Klukowski facing his world-class team. I was not surprised at all that Argentina dominated, or the fact that Canada had exactly zero quality chances. I was surprised that Argentina only scored 5 goals though! If Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain didn’t dick around so much, they could have easily doubled their score. But to put a positive spin on it, I hope Canada’s boys learned from the experience. It was their worst loss in 7 years, but the squad barely plays. They need to play these top-level talents much more often if they are to ever qualify for another World Cup. Perhaps they’ll come out with a better effort against Venezuela as their South American tour ends on Saturday.


Ahh, baseball, where I can get down and dirty with some nerdy numbers. The Toronto Blue Jays home run numbers are ridiculous right now. Coming into tonight’s game in Anaheim, the Jays have smoked 76 home runs in 46 games. The second place team is the Red Sox with 60. That is crazy. The Jays are on pace to hit 268 home runs this year, which would eclipse the 1997 Seattle Mariners who lead all of history with 264 dingers in a single season. Of course, there is the slimmest of slim chances this power surge will hold up. Once pitchers figure out Jose Bautista, maybe he won’t have the most home runs in the majors (okay, he’s tied for the lead, but you catch my drift).


The Stanley Cup Finals are set. The Chicago Blackhawks will be taking on the Philadelphia Flyers. Wow. Full credit to the Montreal Canadiens, who actually had me not hating them with every fibre of my hockey-loving soul for a change. Regardless, this Cup final is going to be fantastic. The championship round pits two Cup-starved cities with great fanbases, and more importantly good TV markets. The Flyers flew into the playoffs on the seat of their pants via a Game 82 shootout win, while the Blackhawks have been among the cream of the crop since scalping the Central Division from the greedy grasp of the Red Wings. There’s lots of great young players on these two teams. Lots of Olympic gold medalists, too.


Roger Staubach, that famous old hall of fame quarterback, is currently the chairman of the North Texas Super Bowl committee. The same committee that landed the upcoming Super Bowl into that glorious new Cowboys Stadium. What he’s trying to do now is get that same building another Super Bowl in 2016. I don’t care if you have the coolest building in the world, that’s way too soon to come back. But this is nothing new at all. In fact, two of the last four Super Bowls have been in Miami. Four of the last six have been in the state of Florida. Though I admit I have next to no knowledge on the politics of Super Bowl site selection, it’s clear to see that the vast country of America is not being fairly represented.


I’ve heard way too much speculation about where Chris Bosh and LeBron James are going to end up. The playoffs are still on! But that’s saying something, these playoffs have been an absolute snooze. Thankfully, Steve Nash is sacrificing his body like a true Canadian in order to spice things up a bit. Not that I see the Suns lasting more than 6 games against the Lakers. Here’s hoping the inevitable Lakers / Celtics final will live up to past encounters.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking ahead to Triple Crown Saturday

Tomorrow's Champions League final is ripe with storylines:

* Can Jose Mourinho finally deliver European glory to Inter for the first time since 1965?

* In a battle of master vs. apprentice, will Louis Van Gaal outwit his former assistant at Barcelona in Mourinho?

* Can Bayern Munich continue their stunning run without the suspended Franck Ribery?

Aside from those very juicy subplots, some pretty serious history is going to be made on Saturday evening in Madrid.

The big one is that one of these clubs is going to become just the sixth team in the history of the beautiful game to claim the treble: winning their domestic league title, domestic cup and the Champions League. No team from Italy or Germany has recorded such a treble, so that will be another first.

We don't have to look far to see who claimed this magnificent feat last, as Barcelona smashed their way through the competition last year en route to the treble. The Catalan Giants went on to fill their trophy cabinet with three more pieces of silverware in achieving a first ever sextuple, but those others are an afterthought.

Don't let Barca's dominance fool you, this doesn't come around very often. Their treble came ten years after Manchester United did it in 1999 thanks to one of the greatest Champs League finishes of all time - with two late goals against Bayern Munich no less.

Now here comes your lame, useless stat of the day: These trebles come around just once every decade. The first came in 1967 from Celtic, followed by Ajax in 1972 and PSV in 1988. The 90's were represented by United in '99 and Barca took care of that last nameless decade we lived through in 2009. Our current decade will be represented by the winner of tomorrow's game. By using some completely flawed logic, I'll boldly claim that we're not going to see another treble until atleast 2020.

One more tidbit that makes this final so good, and this time it's not lame: Mourinho and Van Gaal have both tasted European glory before. Mourinho won with Porto in 2004 and Van Gaal with Ajax in 1995. Only two other managers have won Europe with two different clubs.

There's a lot on the line in tomorrow's Champions League final. History is guaranteed to be made on the pitch at the Bernabeu.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nike's Write The Future ad - Spot on!

The 2010 World Cup is just 20 days away, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m already super pumped. The Score will be airing a daily show at 10 PM ET for all 32 days of the World Cup – even on the off days – and I’ll be working on it. All of us involved are pretty excited to get it going.

To add to the overall excitement, Nike’s "Write The Future" World Cup spot was released this week. I think even the biggest haters of soccer – and believe me, there’s lots here in North America – can’t help but agree with the rest of us that this ad is fantastic. I’m going as far as to say it’s one of the best ads ever produced.

Ads are, of course, designed to make you feel a certain way all the while linking you to whatever is being endorsed. With all the emotions attached to a global event like the World Cup, Nike has brilliantly captured them in their 3 minute ad.

The ad – directed by Oscar-nominated director Alejandro G. Inarritu – is so powerful because of the vast budget that clearly went into it. They’ve got their big World Cup stars (and their non-World Cup stars in Ronaldinho), and other cultural icons like Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer and Homer Simpson. All of it is money well spent because the end result is nothing short of amazing. In the saturated world we live in, seldom am I so moved by an advertisement anymore.

Emotions conveyed are wide-ranging: From the thrills of victory to the bitter, ever-lasting sting of defeat. It shows the glory of the players to the jubilation of the fans, all in appropriate settings. And, refreshingly, the whole thing doesn’t need sex to sell it. It’s all in all a pretty pure look into what evokes emotion at the World Cup.

Lastly, let’s not forget this is, of course, a Nike ad. The swoosh is everywhere, as subliminal as ever. But the ad is clever in showing England’s kits – which are manufactured by Umbro. So in the back of your head, you’re thinking it’s not all about Nike. It’s about the love of the game. But not everyone will be smart enough to know that Nike in fact owns Umbro and has since 2007. I know I wasn’t until I looked into it!

That’s enough from me, now go watch the ad and enjoy!